21. Uptown funk

Next stop on the conveyor belt – the changing room to put on the gown and surgical stockings – this is where all the Barre classes, spin, body combat and total toning came into it’s own at is is a workout to just put them on.   I put my new dressing gown on and pinned the locker key and a ginger tea bag to the lapel so I’d have something nice to drink when I came round.  I made sure everyone knew I wanted GINGER TEA!

I went into the next waiting area where one of the breast care nurses from the Primrose Unit was waiting for me.  I don’t know if someone had phoned up but she was there and a welcome sight.  For all that I said I didn’t need someone I did really – I wasn’t as brave as I was pretending to be, that invincibility cloak would have been useful instead of a dressing gown.  She had a leaflet about exercises for after the surgery and as she was going through them we spotted Mr X ,the surgeon.  We all smiled and waved!  For goodness sake – it wasn’t like meeting chums for a coffee this young man was going to be scooping out the inside of my cancerous left breast and inserting a silicon implant in a short while.

I was called into another office for the final prep.  I asked Mr X if he’d had lunch as I didn’t want him to get all wobbly during the surgery… he looked a bit surprised and told me that I worried too much, I just explained that I was used to be in charge and this was all a bit difficult.  He told me not to worry as I was going to be fine and could I sign this document with all the risks – death, bleeding out, death (ok so I’m exaggerating but he did go through all the possible problems including a form of cancer from the implant).  I had my boob marked up with pen – two arrows one towards the armpit and one on the left boob.  I was tempted to steal the marker pen and write “take me too” on the right one but felt I should be sensible.  I told Mr X that he didn’t have to worry about a room for me after the op as one of my friends (very senior and responsible at the Hospital) had been on to the Director of Nursing and they’d organised a side room for me on Meavy ward.  Mr X just mentioned that Lynher Ward was nice.

Back in the waiting room I watched the comings and goings of the theatre suite whilst listening to Annie Lennox.  Surgeons came in and did their paperwork at Dickensian style standing desks, various staff in theatre scrubs bustled about in a variety of headscarves and it all seemed purposeful.  After a short while a young woman, who looked as if she should be in a GCSE class, but who was  wearing  scrubs called me and walked me down to the theatre.  We stopped by a bed in a corridor and went through the routine, name, date of birth, address, did I know why I was here and what my procedure was… yes I hadn’t forgotten in the couple of hours I’d been here…..and so I passed the test to get into the anesthetic room.

My earphones were out and Uptown funk was coming out of my phone.  Not the first choice you may think for a 50 something year old Geography teacher and responsible member of the Leadership team.   This song will ALWAYS remind me of my eldest son’s wedding in Seattle where my youngest son and the best man put on a fabulous  dance – a good natured and totally daft dance off which happened in a serene venue by a Lake, where we were surrounded by friends and family in the Spring sunshine.  The dance off  resulted in some trousers splitting and then some side splitting laughter.  I felt if I thought of a really happy day I would feel more relaxed, also I knew the words and I sang along.

“Don’t believe me just watch
Don’t believe me just watch
Hey, hey, hey, oh
Uptown funk you up
Uptown funk you up (say what?)
Uptown funk you up”
“Hey wait a minute…..”

I climbed up onto the bed and suddenly it was all go and I appeared to be surrounded by lots of people all working for me.  The “I’ve got you” Anesthesist was there and introduced other people including an Aussie who’d just finished a fellowship (not of the ring I hoped as he didn’t look at all like a Hobbit).  He asked what I liked to be called – quick as a flash I said Ma’am but I’d take Fiona, Fi or Mrs O as that was what the kids at school called me (amongst other things I suspect!).  He called me Fi.  I sat up on the bed and whilst they worked on me and the Aussie asked me to relax my right hand as it bent it to find a vein… relax what wrong with him, I was too busy whooping it up to Uptown Funk and punching the air with my free arm and I didn’t do relaxing  -how was I supposed to relax when the inside of my left boob was going to taken out with a some sort of sonic ice cream scoop.   I heard people talking about “never events” and then a new person appeared and checked my wrist band… no introduction, how rude! One last whoop and I heard the word hypertension… then nothing. It was 1.30pm ish.

Tip:  Try to be helpful not a hinder when the anesthetic team want to put you to sleep – it is in your interest not to have a “never event” and to co-operate.  Remember their taste in music may not be the same as yours. 

Author: fionaosmaston

I live in Plymouth, Devon with my husband Nick and near my parents Sandy and Sheena. Our three children, Marcus, Phoebe and Miles are grown up. I am a geographer and love teaching Geography. My current role is as an Assistant Vice Principal in an inner city comprehensive school where I lead on coaching and initial teacher training. In August 2017 I was diagnosed with invasive lobular carcinoma and following a skin sparing mastectomy and endrocrine/hormone treatment I am now awaiting a final reconstruction. These views are my own and writing this story has helped me come to terms with where I am in this interlude of life which has been dominated by breast cancer.

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